It’s local election time in my of the country this week and libraries but will have a part to play. Some will be polling stations and many will have people coming in and asking where the local polling station is or how come they never got a polling card. In addition, libraries will be part of many local manifestos, with politicians making a big thing of keeping libraries open, albeit often with the how of reduced resources or volunteers glossed over.

The interesting thing here, as Alan Wylie notes in an article below, is how badly Labour does in such campaigns, especially when the deep cuts are largely due to the Conservative line of ever-continuing austerity. Labour should be the party for public libraries, as they are for other public services, but so often they are not. In my region, the North West, the Conservatives speak of reopening libraries that Labour closed. And they’re right, they have. They have also, in one authority, got rid of fines. Yes, the Conservatives – who have done more to destroy library budgets in 2010 than anyone else in modern history – see libraries as a vote winner.

On the other hand, Labour’s record is blemished, with dubious London councils rubbing shoulders with colleagues nationwide defending closing libraries or even supporting the Big Society solution of replacing paid staff with volunteers. Labour’s policy on libraries is thus confused and confusing, and they will not be able to make the capital out of this open goal that they should have been able to. And my take from this is that they’re just not very good at campaigning, with the larger picture meaning that we can envision the Conservatives, and the library-destroying austerity that currently goes with them, lasting for yet longer than the next term.

Have a good week folks.


National news

  • New campaign would make school libraries a statutory requirement – Schools Week. “he three-year campaign will also ask for evidence on the current state of school libraries, and for ring-fenced budgets for library improvements. It is being run by a collection of organisations including library and information association CILIP, the School Library Association, the Association of School and Education Librarians, and the National Literacy Trust.”
  • Public libraries are vital to local communities – Labour must fight to defend them Open Democracy UK. Alan Wylie: “Libraries are being decimated by cuts, privatisation, de-skilling and a shift to ‘volunteerism’ and ‘generalism’. But those working in them are being told to deny there’s a crisis.” … “We need to get Labour to develop a national policy and then use it to whip these and other councils into line and commit to upholding and strengthening the statutory basis of public libraries. Then we stand a chance of reversing/halting the damage.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • USA – Dangers of Micromanagement – Public Libraries Online. “I’ve experienced micromanagement at various points in my career, both in and out of libraries. At two workplaces in particular, it was so severe that I became miserable enough to change jobs. Unfortunately, from speaking to other librarians, my situation was not unique.”
  • True ‘Smart Cities’ should invest in libraries – City Metric. “While smart city strategists discuss city kiosks and building information hubs, properly funded, open and trained library spaces remain a culturally significant baseline, or safety net, for struggling city users to engage safely and competently, with the information-centric world that we need to keep up with. ” … “And yet, this established and recognised infrastructure of library spaces, culturally and historically viable information hubs with varied means of access, is under threat.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet libraries to lose space to business start-ups – Times Series. “Barnet Council has made plans to lease spaces as business hubs to Wimbletech, a business space provider that uses under-utilised space in public buildings. The scheme is to rent out desks in three library buildings, East Finchley, North Finchley and Chipping Barnet libraries as part of Wimbletech’s Workary scheme in Barnet. Emily Burnham of campaign group Save Barnet Libraries says the plans are “too controversial and long term” to implement behind closed doors just before elections.”

“If the plans go ahead, East Finchley library building will be renting out 20 desk spaces, starting at £65 a month. “

  • Birmingham – Hundreds of free books to be given away at Birmingham libraries – Birmingham Live. Crimefest “Hundreds of free books will be given away at five Birmingham libraries in May to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a crime fiction festival.”
  • Bristol – Wick Road Library Campaigners Look For Option to Save Library from Bristol City Council Cuts – Chopsy Baby. “The Save Wick Road Library Community Group, has successfully saved the library from closure in previous rounds of council cuts. But now they fear the worst, anticipating the library will ultimately become a victim and close its doors for good.” … “ampaigners fear that they will lose the use of the dedicated building and are investigating the possibility of relocating the service to adjacent St Cuthbert’s Church as part of the church’s own redevelopment.”
  • Cheshire East – Opinion: Time to bring back county council? – Northwich Guardian. “We used to have Cheshire County Council responsible for running our libraries, education services, social services and road maintenance. And everything seemed to work just fine.”
  • Cornwall – Views sought on cultural hub plan – Cornish Times. “Liskeard Town Council will discuss the Cornwall-based Real Ideas Organisation (RIO)’s proposal for the Liskeard Library at a full council meeting today, Tuesday (April 24), before making a recommendation on the planning application to Cornwall Council”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Upper Norwood library in late-night cabaret licence bid – BBC. “A library has applied to extend its opening hours until late and serve alcohol so it can host cabaret evenings, concerts and comedy nights. The licence request is to keep Upper Norwood Library Hub open until 23:00 on Sundays and weeknights, and 01:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. The trust which runs the community-led service in south-east London said it plans to host a two-week arts festival. Lambeth Council will decide whether to grant the application.”
  • Darlington – Darlington’s council asked to relist Crown Street Library – Northern Echo. “Campaigners battling to save the Grade II listed building from closure welcomed steps taken by arts collective Darlington for Culture to have the property re-listed. ” as an asset of community value.
  • Devon – New Creative Director to lead arts and cultural programme in Devon’s libraries – Libraries Unlimited.Libraries Unlimited has appointed internationally renowned artist and storyteller Daniel Clark to lead its exciting new programme of arts and cultural events across Devon’s libraries” ACE funded. “The charity will receive £170,000 each year for the next four years to deliver a high quality cultural programme in its libraries. “
  • East Sussex – Both libraries need support – Eastbourne Herald / Letter. “Polegate Town Council should recognise not all residents of Polegate use Polegate Library but Willingdon … I therefore expect Polegate council to support retention of both libraries.”
  • East Sussex – Village campaigners plan to run the library themselves – Sussex Express. “Ringmer Library set to close on Saturday, May 5, committed campaigners have been working on a scheme to keep the service in the village. Essentially they would run the library themselves as a community venture and a business plan is being submitted to East Sussex County Council. The idea is to have an independent library, staffed by volunteers and operating in the existing building. Liz Owen, of Save Ringmer Library, said: “The proposal is that the library group will work under the auspices of Ringmer Village Hall, already a registered charity with a proven track record.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire libraries set to extend opening hours – Leader. “Aura Leisure and Libraries Limited, in partnership with Flintshire Council, has announced plans to improve and extend opening hours across library sites to enable better access to services for residents. From May 8 the county’s libraries will be changing their opening hours to allow for increased, easier and more convenient access for customers.”
  • Hertfordshire – Wheathampstead Library handed over to community – Herts Advertiser. “David Ireson, a representative of the management committee, said: “Forty volunteers have spent many hours training over the last year to reach this stage and it is a great tribute to Chrissie Chadney that such rapid progress towards the village running its own library has been made.””
  • Isle of Wight – CCTV introduced after Isle of Wight library sex – BBC. “A council statement said security at Lord Louis Library in Newport has been increased due to “occasional instances of inappropriate behaviour”. The incident is believed to have happened at the end of last month. Cameras costing £3,000 have been installed in the library and were paid for by a public donation. A council spokesperson said: “We have installed eight new cameras in Lord Louis Library to help improve security. “We have had occasional instances of inappropriate behaviour and we hope this will act as an effective deterrent.””
  • Norfolk – King’s Lynn school launches pop-up library for community to swap and share – Eastern Daily Press. Little Free Library in primary school.
  • Northamptonshire – Kettering councillor says consultation for universal children’s services is a ‘sham’ – Northants Telegraph. “The county council’s plan to shut down 21 of its 36 libraries mean the children’s services currently provided in the libraries will have relocate to other venues. However all of the consultations to assess the need for universal children’s services are taking place in the libraries that are staying open. Libraries at Earls Barton, Rothwell, Danesholme in Corby, and Wollaston are among the smaller libraries set to close and do not feature in the consultation events”
  • Northumberland – Councillor’s pledge over Playhouse overhaul – Northumberland Gazette. “The major overhaul, which will start soon, follows a deal being struck for the county council to buy the building and then grant a new 50-year lease to Alnwick District Playhouse Trust to enable it to continue to operate the theatre, studio, bar and an expanded café facility. The county council will use the remaining part of the ground floor to house library, tourist information and customer-service facilities.”
  • North Somerset – Long Ashton Library could close for good – Bristol Live. “What would you be willing to do to save the library service in your village? This was the question posed to a group of Long Ashton residents at a meeting last night (Monday, April 23). It comes as North Somerset Council has announced a review of frontline library services which could see the Long Ashton library close its doors for good.”

“Ten years ago I had a budget of £3.1million. This year I was given £1.6million to deliver basically the same service,” Andy Brisley, North Somerset libraries manager.